MP calls for low-alcohol tax flexibility

A junior Tory heath minister has told a House of Lords committee she would like to see “flexibility around taxation” on lower- alcohol wine-type products made a priority in discussions on alcohol strategy in Europe.

Jane Ellison told a meeting of the House of Lords home affairs health and education sub- committee that a system “a bit more like we’ve done with beer duty” – with a sliding scale rather than a blanket rate for all wine over 5.5% abv – could encourage more producers to launch lower- abv products, having a positive public health impact.

Ellison said: “I have a lot of discussions with supermarkets and producers who have invested in lower-alcohol products. There is potentially a big shopping revolution ready to go if we had the products to do it.

“I want to make sure it is really high on the agenda as one of the UK’s asks [in talks at EU level].”

When asked by the committee whether she thought the prime minister took a similar view she added: “His list is his list.”

The committee also heard that EU rules around the labelling of lower-abv wine-style products and restrictions on calorie counts on alcohol labels were areas that obstructed the UK taking its own initiatives.

Calorie labels are “an area we are interested in”, said Ellison, adding:” It’s one of the reasons we’re taking the responsibility deal approach on labelling.”

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